Lectionary 15 A

More Romans! And some other things to, but mostly Romans, especially if you're not doing the semicontinuous readings.

Isaiah 55:10-13

...so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

--Isaiah 55:11

Verse 11 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 13: The Number and Use of the Sacraments (AP 13.11) in Melanchthon's unpacking of the reformers' view on ordination as a sacrament. Here it comes down to the role of the ordained. If the idea of ordination is setting aside a priesthood that does ritual sacrifices to earn favor for the people, the reformers are against this because of Hebrews, chapters 7-9. If, however, the point of ordination is to set aside people to proclaim the gospel and study scripture, they're all for calling it sacrament.

Semicontinuous Reading - Genesis 25:19-34

And the Lord said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the elder shall serve the younger.”

-- Genesis 25:23

Verse 23 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 11: Election (SD 11.88) as an example of God making a choice about people before they are born, before we are capable of doing anything to save ourselves. Here the citation is to show that Jacob hadn't done anything to have Esau serve him, but before they were born, this is what God had seen.

Semicontinuous Psalm - Psalm 119: 105-112

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

-- Psalm 119:105

Verse 105 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Epitome, Introduction (Ep 0.1) to declare that it is the scriptures and only the scriptures by which "all teachings and teachers are to be evaluated and judged." Even the most august of teachings is under the authority and rule of scripture.

Romans 8:1-11

Ah, more Romans. This letter from Paul was one of the most influential books of the Bible on Luther, so no surprise that there are a ton of citations. As has been my practice, we'll take these by the order their found in The Book of Concord, so attend to the bold verse references.

Verses 7-8 are quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 4: Justification (AP 4.32) along with several other biblical passages to show that righteousness before God cannot be achieved by reason. Reason, too, must be reborn through water and the Spirit.

Verses 1 and 4 are elided into a quote later in the same article (AP 4.143) in a section where Melanchthon is seeking to clarify the Lutheran reformers' position on the role of works for those who have been saved. Faith, he writes, "cannot exists in those who live according to the flesh, who take pleasure in their lusts, and who succumb to them" (AP 4.143), because being in Christ means walking "not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:4).

Verse 10 is quoted later in the Apology in Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.151-4 quarto) to argue against God's vengeance being necessary for repentance. Melanchthon's argument at this point is that even the saints die, so not even death counts as an example of God's vengeance. Rather, death comes from the presence of sin "in the flesh," which is killed to that the flesh, too, might be reborn.

Verse 3, or at least the Vulgate version of verse 3, is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 24: The Mass (AP 24.23), along with Isaiah 53:10, to show that Jesus' death is the only acceptable atoning sacrifice, a sacrifice that cannot be repeated.

Verse 2 is cited in a footnote to Smalcald Articles, Part 3, Article 3: Repentance (SA 3.3.40, n. 122). In this section, Luther is showing that true repentance is life-long, both in how often we repent and how long repentance works--if you will. This citation is a reference to how the repentance works, which is by the Holy Spirit.

Verse 7 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article 2: Free Will, Affirmative Thesis 2 (Ep 2.3) to show that "the unregenerated human will" strives against God's will and can do nothing else.

Verse 1 is quoted later in the Epitome, Article 4: Good Works, Affirmative Thesis 9 (Ep 4.14) to show that God "does not reckon" our inability to do good works because of the law of sin at work in our members as reason for condemnation of the elect.

Verse 1 is quoted still later in Epitome, Article 6: Third Use of the Law (Ep 6.6), along with Romans 7:23 from last week, to show that while the fruits of the Spirit fulfill the law, they are not done to fulfill the law.

Verse 7 comes back up in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 2: Free Will a few times. First (SD 2.13), it is quoted in a line of scriptural quotes to make the point that "Scripture denies to the natural human mind, heart, and will every ability, aptitude, capability, and capacity to think anything good or proper in spiritual matters by themselves, or to understand, begin, will, undertake, do, accomplish, or cooperate in them" (SD 2.12). A bit later (SD 2.17), verse 7 is quoted to go the next step. Not only is the unregenerated human not able to do good and follow God, but instead actively works against God being incapable of doing good.

Verse 11, along with several other passages, is cited through editorial insert in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 11: Election (SD 11.89) to show that when the doctrine of election is properly taught, it encourages us to live a faithful life, sure in the knowledge that our salvation does not depend on us but also keeps us from reveling in our sinful ways.


Such strong emphasis on our inability to do anything good without the Spirit. Hopefully this spins the parable of the sower and its explanation a bit differently. We can't choose to be good soil.

  • What kind of soil would you rate yourself?
  • Why is it wrong to rate yourself as one of the soils?